Fearing the worst

Zahid Chowdhury.

A Heideveld businessman fears for his life after four men attempted to kidnap him in front of his Rylands home last month.

According to Zahid Chowdhury, the men instructed him to keep aside R500 000 as they’d be back to collect it.

The attempted kidnapping took place on Monday October 9 as Mr Chowdhury and his wife Adreta were on their way to a supermarket. As they were closing their gate after having reversed their car out of their driveway, a white VW Golf stopped behind them, a man jumped out and approached Mr Chowdhury.

“My wife started screaming and this man had a firearm in his hand and he grabbed hold of me, pulling me towards the Golf.

“My wife was still screaming and this man said ‘You’re lucky. You foreigners come to our country to make money’. I did not reply.

“He continued and said ‘You’re lucky this time. Keep R500 000 one side’.” He said the man then let go of him, ran back to the Golf, where three other men were waiting and shouted “organise the money”.

The Bangladeshi couple have since opened a case at the Athlone police station, with charges including assault, intimidation and pointing a firearm.

Mr Chowdhury said the men returned to his house on Saturday November 4 while he was at gym. When Ms Chowdhury opened the door, the men had asked if her husband was home and she said no.

He said they now fear for their lives and don’t feel safe leaving home. “This is so painful. So many things are happening. We are scared to do anything.

“It’s a very big problem. The police need to be active. If my wife wasn’t there they would have taken me. I am even scared to go to work,” he said.

He added that he is urging the community to be alert and aware of their surroundings.

In October last year business man Naushad Khan, (who also goes by the name Naushad Deshmukh), the owner of Khan’s clothing store in Rylands was kidnapped while locking up his clothing store in Rylands. He was found alive after he was dropped in Thornton on Wednesday December 28.

Community activist Hanif Loonat, who has previously been involved in community police forums, said there were about eight or nine different syndicates who have been operating in Cape Town for about six or seven years. He claimed these syndicates were living on a farm in Philippi where they held their hostages. Mr Loonat also believed that a Pakistani syndicate was responsible for the kidnapping of Bangladeshis, demanding ransoms ranging from R20 000 or R30 000 to as much as R1 million. “We want to tell them that we know who they are and they will not get away with this. We will catch them,” he said.

Athlone police station’s spokesperson Sergeant Zita Norman, confirmed the incident involving Mr Chowdhury and said while police were aware of a syndicate operating in Cape Town, they could not confirm further details.